History of Ravensknowle & Scheme for the Development of a Local Museum (1921) by Legh Tolson and T.W. Woodhead
The following scheme for the development of a Local Museum was laid before representative members of the Huddersfield corporation, at a meeting held at the Town Hall, on August 8th, 1919, under the Chairmanship of the Mayor, Alderman Carmi Smith, J.P. Mr. Legh Tolson was also present. After careful consideration it was agreed to recommend the scheme for adoption by the County Borough Council, and through the kindness of Alderman Wilfrid Dawson, it was printed and circulated to the members of the Corporation. Mr Legh Tolson’s generous offer of Ravensknowle Hall and Grounds, was accepted by the Council at their meeting held on July 16th, 1919, and the deed of gift, to which a copy of the Museum Scheme was attached, was completed on December 31st, 1919.
To meet demands for copies of the Museum Scheme, this new edition has been prepared, by request of the Committee, and the opportunity has been taken to slightly expand the original condensed statement, so as to make it more generally useful.
At my request, Mr. Tolson has very kindly allowed us to include in this Handbook his account of the history of Ravensknowle.
On May 14th, 1921, the grounds were opened to the public, and since then considerable progress has been made by the Head Gardener, Mr. W. Forbes, and his staff, in carrying out the necessary alterations.
To the right of the main entrance, Tennis Courts have been provided on the site of the kitchen garden, and opposite the south front of the Hall a Bowling Green has been made on the site of a former Tennis Court.
The shrubberies are being considerably modified and stocked with an interesting collection of forest trees and shrubs, also new herbaceous borders, rock and water gardens have been planned. In this work the Committee is greatly indebted to Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour, Director of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, for his generous gift of a large number of plants, and for his kindly interest in our scheme.
The band stand in the Recreation Grounds is from Royds Hall, and is the one used at the Military Hospital there during the Great War.
The Sundial to the west of the Bowling Green has been made and presented by Mr. Alfred Hadaway, of Dalton, and rests on a large ice-transported sandstone boulder found at Hillhouse in the deposits above the shales in the works of the Huddersfield Brick, Tile and Stone company, by whom it was kindly given.
It is with much pleasure we record the readiness with which many residents in the neighbourhood have volunteered to act as Stewards, and to encourage visitors to appreciate their own property and protect it from damage. Very gratifying, too, is the sincere appreciation of the public for the provision of this beautiful spot as a place for rest and recreation in the midst of a crowded population.
In April, 1920, the Governors of the Technical College agreed to transfer to Ravensknowle a large number of cabinets, cases and specimens in their possession. The principal collections were the Alfred Beaumont Collection of British Birds, the Samuel Learoyd collection of Minerals, the Cases and Collections of the Literary and Scientific Society, also a considerable number of specimens brought together by Mr. S.L. Mosley during the time he was Curator of the College Museum. At the time of the transfer, Mr. Mosley was invited to continue as Curator of the Tolson Memorial Museum, under the direction of the Committee, and develop it on the lines suggested in the scheme adopted by the council. Mr. Charles Mosley was appointed Assistant Curator and Clerk to the committee. Since the transfer, the Curator and his staff have been working assiduously in preparing objects for the Museum, and it is hoped the work will be sufficiently advanced to justify an opening at Easter, 1922.
At a meeting of the County Borough Council held October 19th this year, it was decided to transfer the Meteorological Instruments from Edgerton Cemetery to Ravensknowle, and establish a new station was founded in 1876 by the late Mr. James Firth, who was formerly Head Gardener for Mr. Wm. Edwards Hirst, at Lascelles Hall. The remarkably hot and dry summer of 1868 first aroused in Mr. Firth an interest in weather phenomena. He had previously made isolated notes of outstanding occurrences, especially the intense frost of 1860.
In the severe winter of 1870–1, when 33 deg. Of frost were registered on New Year’s Day, he decided to commence regular observations of the weather. From December 21st, 1870, this daily local record of the weather was continued in an unbroken sequence.
From 1871 to 1875, Mr. Firth supplied monthly and yearly summaries of his observations to the local press; and on his appointment as Registrar of Edgerton Cemetery in 1876 he transferred his instruments, and continued the work there until his decease in 1895. meanwhile there had been a general development in the science of Meteorology, and these records gained in value with the lapse of time. Weekly reports were supplied to the Medical Officer of Health and also to the Registrar general in London.
Twenty-seven years ago Mr. Joe Firth succeeded his father. The renewal of some of the instruments became necessary, and a reorganisation of the station took place to meet the requirements of the Meteorological Office in London, so as to bring it into line with other towns, and obtain official recognition as the local Meteorological Station in connection with the Office. Extensive detailed weekly and monthly returns were now furnished, which were added to 1910, when a rearrangement was affected, and the County Borough Council undertook the whole of the upkeep of the Station. The following is a list of the present instruments; Standard Kew Barometer, Standard 8-in. Rain Gauge, Clockwork Self-Recording Rain Gauge, Anemometer, and the following Thermometers, Solar Maximum, Grass Minimum, Shade Minimum, Shade Maximum, Dry and Wet Bulbs, Earth Thermometers, 1ft. and 4ft. underground. The transference will take place at the end of the present year, and Mr. Charles Mosley has been appointed Recorder.
The photograph of Ravensknowle Hall was taken by Mr. W.H. Sikes in October, 1919, and shows the south front of the Hall while Mr. Tolson was still in residence there. Mr. Sikes also supplied the photograph for some of the figures included in this booklet.
The two plans in the booklet prepared by Mr. H. Sutcliffe, the Borough Architect, show the sequence of rooms in the Museum, and are numbered in the order to be visited so as to follow the history and development of the district.
The generous assistance rendered by all sections to make the Museum thoroughly representative, is evidence of their appreciation of its value to the community, and we look forward confidently to still further aid as the scheme becomes more widely known.
The willingness with which leading authorities in their several departments of knowledge are helping us to build up a Museum worthy of its object, its donor, and of our town, is one of the most pleasing and encouraging features. Science and art are instinctive givers, and it is to this spirit we owe what is most valuable in our scheme.